The Missed Opportunity

Some may not believe this, but I have been bending over backwards trying to become a solid supporter of Barack Obama. I really do believe he has a bundle of political talent and generally holds sound views on most issues. But as I have written since 2006, he has simply failed to be the type of Democratic politician we need in this political climate (See my many posts on Obama for more detail.)

Recognizing this problem, Matt Yglesias defends Obama:

I also think I should take my hat off to Hillary Clinton's campaign -- I think this has been less a failure on Obama's part, then cleverness on Clinton's. She's managed to position herself on foreign policy issues in a way that signals her differences with Obama very clearly to the tiny community of specialists while completely blurring them to the broader audience of voters. I'm not sure how this can be overcome . .

I am sure how it can be done and should have been done for the past year at least - by leading on the issues NOW. As Markos writes:

I don't know how many times I've written this, and maybe I'm just wasting my time, but rather than talk about leadership, Obama and Clinton could actually shows us what that leadership looks like by fighting to prevent the Senate from capitulating on Iraq.


Honestly, Yglesias, like too many Left wonks, has been oblivious to what Congress can do on Iraq. It is a terrible blind spot. For them, if it is not in a position paper, Foreign Affairs article or "big speech," it as if it does not exist. Look at his lament:

I'm not sure how this can be overcome, but I'm sure it can't be overcome by having writers further obscure the differences by focusing primarily on what a good job Clinton's done of obscuring them. The basic reality is that each and every time the candidates stake out a position on something, Clinton takes a less-liberal line. Then each and every time Obama starts getting traction with the argument that Clinton is too hawkish, she backtracks and makes the argument that there's no real difference here. And it's true that if you look at any one thing with a microscope, the "no difference" argument can be made to stick. But it's the pattern that matters . . .

This is, in a word, absurd. There are no substantive differences on what to do NOW, despite attempts by Yglesias and others to pretend there are, among the Big 3. The only candidate who has made real differences on these big issues has been Chris Dodd - by leading NOW.

Unfortunately, Dodd just seems unable to get any traction. Partly because writers like Matt Yglesias pay no attention to what the Congress can do on Iraq. Maybe they would if OBAMA lead in the Senate NOW.

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    Huh?? (1.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 08:02:44 AM EST
    Obama and Clinton could actually shows us what that leadership looks like by fighting to prevent the Senate from capitulating on Iraq.

    What kind of double talk is this?  Isn't capitulation on Iraq the goal?

    Markos (none / 0) (#1)
    by koshembos on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 06:00:40 PM EST
    Markos is right in pointing the finger to leadership. If Obama is a leader, he has successfully hidden it. Leading may be in many ways as long as they are within the vision of the Democratic party. Lack of leadership makes everyone unhappy.

    Matt is right about Hillary's successful avoidance of the need for leadership on her part. It's not what we are looking for and it isn't vision, but it works for her. (Doesn't work for some of us.)

    Talking about Obama's political talent misses the point. Talent is great, for your mom; we always should ask what have you done with the talent. So far, Obama cannot point to much.

    I believe it (none / 0) (#2)
    by Demi Moaned on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 08:35:54 PM EST
    You've clearly been trying hard the last week or two and you almost convinced me.

    But I've always been suspicious that his new kind of politics is actually an old and particularly ineffective kind.